If you haven’t seen a group of people looking sorely out of place accompanied by a student in a burgundy short sleeve polo, it’s hard to believe you go to the College of Charleston. Charleston 40, one of the College’s thought to be elite clubs, gives tours to prospective students and their families Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m.
Established in 1980, the club originally had 40 members, but has grown exponentially and no longer has a limit; acceptance into the club is based on qualification.
Charleston 40 is mostly student-run, as students make up the executive board, but they do have an advisor, Susan Oakes, who oversees it. The tour guide job used to be a paid position, but it has now become a volunteer organization with many perks. The organization, for instance, provides its members with the short sleeve polos they wear on their tours, as well as a fleece pullover for the colder months. Being a member also allows you to meet a lot of people, make connections and inspire people to attend the school.
If a student decides they’d like to become a member, the process is rather intensive. First, you fill out an application, much like you are applying for a job, that has questions such as ‘Why do you want to be a tour guide?’ and ‘What do you like about College of Charleston?’
During the application process students are required to give mock tours and participate in an individual interview. Mock tours are approximately five minutes and can be of any part of the campus such as the library, a residence hall or even the Cistern.
After being accepted, new members are required to shadow tours, meaning you walk around with a tour guide and observe. Later on in the semester, you begin co-touring with another member. You then take a written exam that tests you on your knowledge of the campus, and afterwards give a full campus tour to one of the members of the executive board. If you pass both of these, you become a full-fledged member and can give tours alone.
Each tour lasts an hour and 15 minutes, and can include anywhere from one family to over fifty people. The tour guide hits all the main points on campus such as the Cistern, the Library, Residence Life, and the dining halls. They talk about the classes, the buildings, and especially the history of the College. Short, factual anecdotes – like how the doors to Towell Library are so skinny because they were made with the purpose of keeping girls in hoop skirts out – are told throughout the tour in order to keep it entertaining.
Charleston 40 does more than just offer tours, however. They help out with Open House in November, as well as with Junior Preview. Their biggest involvement, however, is in the Spring with Accepted Students Weekend. The members give their normal campus tours, but they also give special “A Day in the Life” tours. These include taking accepted students by the tour guides’ favorite places on or off campus, particularly if those places are not visited on the tours.
This semester Charleston 40 is trying to revamp its tours. Facts are being checked with department heads, and each department is having a say in what they want prospective students to know. With the help of the members of Charleston 40, prospective students are sure to fall in love with the College and apply for admission.